13 Best Islands in Europe to Visit in 2024

by Jen
Best Islands to Visit in Europe
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Dreaming of the ultimate island getaway in Europe? Well, you’re in for a treat! We’ve put together the ultimate list of the best islands in Europe to visit in 2024. From lounging under the Greek sun in Santorini to exploring the mystical landscapes of Scotland’s Isle of Skye, we’re about to dive into an island-hopping adventure you won’t forget.

Imagine chilling on a beach with the softest sand you’ve ever felt, or maybe you’re wandering through quaint villages with a gelato in hand. Europe’s islands are this perfect mix of chill vibes, epic scenery, and a dash of history. It’s all about those moments that make you go, “Wow, is this even real?” From feasting on the freshest seafood by the sea in Mallorca to uncovering hidden historical treasures in Cyprus, these islands are full of surprises.

So, are you ready to hop from one amazing island to another? Let’s set off on this journey to explore Europe’s most incredible islands. Trust me, it’s going to be a ride filled with breathtaking views, mouth-watering eats, and stories to tell for years!

Best European Islands to Visit

Are you geared up to uncover the most mesmerizing islands Europe has in store? This ultimate guide is your ticket to crafting the dreamiest island-hopping itinerary for your next European escapade.

From the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean to the rugged, enchanting landscapes of the North, get ready to embark on a journey that will take you through Europe’s most captivating islands.

1. Santorini, Greece: An Iconic Island with Postcard Views

First stop, Santorini – a name that’s synonymous with Greek island beauty. Imagine a place where white-washed buildings cling to cliffs, overlooking the sparkling Aegean Sea. This is the stuff of postcards and dreams.

Santorini isn’t just about stunning views, though. It’s a place rich in history, with ancient sites like Akrotiri offering a glimpse into a sophisticated civilization buried by volcanic ash. The island’s unique volcanic beaches, like the Red Beach, are a whole new beach experience.

As the sun sets, Oia becomes the island’s heartbeat. The view of the sun dipping into the sea, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, is nothing short of magical. It’s a moment that defines the Santorini experience.

Foodies, you’re in for a treat. The local cuisine is a delightful mix of fresh seafood and Greek flavors. Don’t miss out on trying the island’s unique wines, born from the volcanic soil.

For a quieter experience, visit the lesser-known village of Pyrgos. It’s just as charming but without the crowds. If you visit in spring or early autumn, when the weather is perfect, you can enjoy it without the crowds.

Santorini is one of the best islands to visit in Europe.
Santorini is a Greek island paradise with white-washed buildings perched on cliffs above the Aegean Sea.

2. Ibiza, Spain: Not Just a Party Island, But a Slice of Paradise

Yeah, you’ve probably heard it’s the world’s party capital, but you might be surprised to hear there’s a lot more to this small Balearic island. Picture crystal-clear waters, hidden coves, and a vibe that’s just infectious.

Ibiza’s beaches are something else. Whether you’re up for a chill day at Cala Comte or want to catch some waves at Aguas Blancas, there’s a beach for every mood. And when the sun goes down, the island transforms – the nightlife is legendary, but you probably knew that already!

But hey, let’s talk about the other side of Ibiza. Away from the clubs, you’ll find quaint villages, pine-covered hills, and some seriously good local eateries. It’s like you’re in a different world.

And the sunsets are epic. Head to the west coast, find a nice spot, and just watch the sky light up. It’s a moment where you just feel, well, alive.

Rent a scooter and explore the island’s hidden corners. You’ll find some amazing spots that most tourists miss. Best time to hit Ibiza? Late spring or early fall – you get all the good weather without the peak season crowds.

Ibiza offers crystal-clear waters, hidden coves, and an infectious vibe.
Ibiza offers crystal-clear waters, hidden coves, and an infectious vibe.

3. Sicily, Italy: A Treasure Trove of History, Flavors, and Stunning Landscapes

This small island has a big reputation, and let me tell you, this Italian island is a world of its own. It’s like every corner has a story, from ancient Greek temples to bustling markets in Palermo. Sicily is like a historical epic, culinary journey, and a beach getaway all rolled into one.

First off, the history here is mind-blowing. The Valley of the Temples, these ancient Greek ruins are like a walk through time. And cities like Syracuse and Taormina? They’re like open-air museums.

Sicilian cuisine is a highlight – think fresh seafood, incredible pasta, and oh, the sweets! Cannoli, anyone? The food here is an experience that’ll never leave you.

And the beaches – from the sandy shores of Cefalù to the rocky coves of the Aeolian Islands, there’s a spot for every beach lover. Plus, the island’s interior, with its rolling hills and quaint villages, is just as captivating.

For a unique experience, visit Mount Etna. Hiking an active volcano? It’s as cool as it sounds. Head up early and catch the sunrise for one of Europe’s great panoramic views.

Sicily, Italy is one of the best islands to visit in Europe.
Sicily is a world of its own, with ancient sites and a blend of history, cuisine, and beaches.

4: Malta: A Mediterranean Country with Many Cultural Influences

Looking for a European island vacation like no other? Discover Malta, a Mediterranean gem where ancient history meets stunning landscapes. This island is a sun-soaked paradise with crystal-clear waters perfect for diving into hidden coves and exploring vibrant marine life.

Wander through Valletta’s narrow streets, a city brimming with baroque architecture and buzzing cafes. Experience the old charm of Mdina, and don’t miss the vibrant nightlife in St. Julian’s. Whether you’re after a cultural deep dive or just want to chill on golden beaches, Malta offers an unforgettable escape with a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.

Malta is a whole new world packed into one exciting, sun-drenched destination. Get ready to make memories in Malta, where every corner promises a new discovery. It’s easy to see why this is the most beautiful island in Europe for many travelers.

Explore Malta, where ancient history meets stunning landscapes.
Explore Malta, where ancient history meets stunning landscapes.

5. Corsica, France: Rugged Beauty with a French Twist

Now, let’s hop over to Corsica, a French island with a character all its own. This place is like a little bit of France sprinkled on an island paradise. It’s where dramatic mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea, creating landscapes that are just, well, wow!

There’s something special about Corsica. Sure, it has stunning beaches like Palombaggia and Rondinara, but it’s the rugged interior that really steals the show. Think hiking trails through the mountains, like the famous GR20, offering some of the most breathtaking views you’ll ever see.

And the towns, oh the towns! Bonifacio, perched on white limestone cliffs, is a sight to behold. And Ajaccio, Napoleon’s birthplace, is full of history and charm.

Corsican cuisine? It’s a delightful mix of French and Italian flavors. From fresh seafood to local cheeses and charcuterie, every meal here is a celebration of the island’s rich culinary heritage.

Take a boat trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the wildlife and rock formations are incredible.

Corsica is a unique French island where dramatic mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea.
Corsica is a unique French island where dramatic mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea.

6. Madeira, Portugal: A Lush Island of Eternal Spring

Welcome to Madeira, Portugal’s floating garden in the Atlantic. This island of Europe is a paradise for nature lovers, with its lush landscapes and eternal spring-like climate. There’s a dozen reasons why this is one of the most on-trend islands in Europe.

Madeira’s natural beauty is something else. The Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels like something out of a fairy tale, with its ancient trees and misty trails. And the views from the Cabo Girão skywalk? Absolutely breathtaking.

The island’s capital, Funchal, is a blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication. Stroll through its colorful streets, visit the historic farmers’ market, and try some of the famous Madeira wine.

Adventure seekers, you’re in for a treat. Hiking along the levadas (traditional irrigation channels) is a unique way to explore the island’s stunning landscapes. And for those who love the sea, the waters around Madeira are perfect for whale and dolphin watching.

Don’t miss the chance to ride the Monte toboggans – it’s a thrilling way to descend from the town of Monte to Funchal. Best time to visit Madeira? Anytime, really – its nickname as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ is well-earned. Is this one of the best islands to visit in Europe? You bet!

Madeira is one of the best islands to visit in Europe.
Madeira boasts lush landscapes and a perpetual spring-like climate.

7. Mallorca, Spain: A Blend of Beaches and Culture

Let’s jet off to Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands and a true Mediterranean jewel. This island is a tapestry of crystal-clear coves, historic towns, and vibrant cultural experiences.

Mallorca’s beaches are the stuff of dreams. From the serene Cala Llombards to the bustling Playa de Palma, there’s a beach for every mood. But the island’s beauty isn’t confined to its coastline. The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range offers stunning hiking trails and breathtaking views.

Palma, the capital, is a treasure trove of history and culture. The Gothic cathedral, La Seu, is a masterpiece, and the winding streets of the old town are perfect for a leisurely exploration. And let’s not forget the food – tapas, fresh seafood, and local wines are a must-try.

For a different vibe, head to the charming towns of Valldemossa or Deià. They’re picturesque, peaceful, and full of artistic inspiration.

Rent a car and explore the lesser-known parts of the island. The drive through the mountain villages is as scenic as it gets.

Mallorca is a Balearic gem that weaves together crystal-clear coves and historic towns.
Mallorca is a Balearic gem that weaves together crystal-clear coves and historic towns.

8. Sardinia, Italy: A Hidden Gem with Emerald Waters and Timeless Traditions

Sardinia, Italy’s stunning island that’s a world apart from the mainland. This place is a blend of crystal-clear seas, ancient history, and a culture that’s rich and proudly preserved.

Sardinia’s beaches are legendary. Picture the Costa Smeralda with its emerald waters and white sands – it’s like stepping into a postcard. Hidden coves like Cala Luna and Spiaggia di Tuerredda offer tranquil escapes into nature’s embrace.

The island’s interior is a treasure trove of history. The Nuraghi, ancient stone dwellings unique to Sardinia, are a window into a mysterious past. And the traditional villages, with their timeless customs and festivals, offer a glimpse into a way of life that’s remained unchanged for centuries.

Sardinian cuisine is a delight, with hearty dishes like porceddu (roast suckling pig) and malloreddus (a type of pasta). And the local wines? They’re the perfect accompaniment to a sun-soaked meal.

Explore the less-traveled paths of the Gennargentu National Park for some incredible hiking. Best time to visit Sardinia? May or September, when the weather is warm but not too hot, and the summer crowds have thinned out. It’s easy to see why Sardinia is one of the top islands in Europe to visit right now.

Sardinia is a world apart with crystal-clear seas, ancient history, and a rich, proudly preserved culture.
Sardinia is a world apart with crystal-clear seas, ancient history, and a rich, proudly preserved culture.

9. Vis, Croatia: A Best-Kept Secret in the Adriatic

Alright, let’s talk about Vis, Croatia’s little slice of paradise that’s still under the radar. This island is like a chill-out zone frozen in time, far from the usual tourist hustle. It’s all about unspoiled beaches, crystal-clear waters, and taking it easy.

Vis has a history that’s as deep as the Adriatic surrounding it. Think old military bases and hidden submarine tunnels – it’s like a playground for the curious. And the beaches? Stiniva Cove is a stunner – it’s like nature’s own secret hideaway.

The island vibe here is super laid-back. Wander through the streets of Vis Town or Komiža, and you’ll feel like you’re part of the local scene. The pace is slow, the smiles are genuine, and the seafood? It’s fresh off the boat and onto your plate.

And if you’re into a bit of adventure, there’s kayaking, diving, and exploring those mysterious military ruins. It’s like a little bit of everything wrapped up in an island.

Rent a scooter and just go where the road takes you. You’ll find some amazing spots all to yourself. Best time to visit Vis? Late spring or early autumn – perfect weather and you’ll pretty much have the island to yourself.

Vis featuring unspoiled beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Vis featuring unspoiled beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.

10. Azores, Portugal: A Nature Paradise in the Middle of the Atlantic

Welcome to The Azores, Portugal’s best-kept secret in the middle of the Atlantic. This archipelago is like a cluster of natural wonders – think volcanic landscapes, lush greenery, and a sense of adventure around every corner.

The Azores are all about getting up close with nature. You’ve got islands like São Miguel with its jaw-dropping crater lakes, and Pico, where you can literally climb to the top of Portugal.

The towns here, like Ponta Delgada and Angra do Heroísmo, are full of charm and history. Cobbled streets, historic churches, and a laid-back lifestyle that makes you want to stay forever.

And if you’re into wildlife, the Azores are a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. It’s like a live National Geographic show right in front of you.

Food in the Azores? It’s fresh, it’s local, and it’s delicious. Seafood is a big deal here, and the local cheeses? You’ve got to try them.

Insider tip: Take a dip in the natural hot springs of Furnas. It’s like nature’s own spa. Best time to visit the Azores? Late spring to early fall for the best weather and whale watching opportunities.

The Azores boast volcanic landscapes, lush greenery, and endless adventure.
The Azores boast volcanic landscapes, lush greenery, and endless adventure.

11. Hvar, Croatia: Where History Meets Hip and the Sun Always Shines

Next, we’re off to Hvar in Croatia, and let me tell you, this island is the real deal. It’s a sunbather’s paradise while also having a vibe that’s both ancient and totally today.

Strolling through Hvar, you’ll bump into history at every turn – the Hvar Fortress is a must-see. We’re talking about entertaining history while the place buzzes with trendy cafes and chill bars.

And the beaches – they’re something else. We’re talking crystal-clear waters and pebble shores that’ll make you never want to leave. Dubovica beach is my personal fave – it’s like a hidden gem in Croatia.

You can’t talk about Hvar without mentioning the lavender fields. When they bloom, the whole island smells like a spa. It’s pretty, it’s purple, and it’s picture-perfect.

Food here? Seafood’s the star – fresh from the sea and oh-so-tasty. Pair it with a glass of local wine as the sun dips, and you’re living the Hvar dream.

Grab a boat and hit up the Pakleni Islands. They’re these gorgeous little spots of untouched nature just a short ride away.

Hvar in Croatia is a sunbather's paradise with an ancient yet contemporary vibe.
Hvar in Croatia is a sunbather’s paradise with an ancient yet contemporary vibe.

12. Isle of Skye, Scotland: A Land of Myths, Mist, and Majestic Landscapes

Alright, let’s head north to the Isle of Skye in Scotland. This place is like stepping into a Celtic legend, with its misty mountains, rugged coastlines, and tales of faeries and warriors. Skye is a mystical adventure waiting for your exploration.

Skye’s scenery is epic. The Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Fairy Pools – these beautiful spots are like scenes from a fantasy movie. Hiking here feels like you’re exploring another world.

The island’s small towns and villages, like Portree with its colorful waterfront, are full of charm and history. And let’s not forget the local whisky – a dram of Talisker by the fire is the perfect end to a day of exploring.

Skye’s also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles soaring above and otters playing along the shorelines.

If you take a boat trip to see the sea cliffs and wildlife from the water, you’ll get a whole different perspective. Definitely worth it!  Best time to visit Skye? Late spring for the best chance of good weather, but honestly, Skye’s dramatic beauty shines through no matter the season.

The Isle of Skye is one of the best islands to visit in Europe.
The Isle of Skye is a Celtic legend with misty mountains and rugged coastlines.

13. Cyprus: A Sun-Drenched Blend of Cultures, History, and Beaches

Last but definitely not least, we’re off to Cyprus, a sun-kissed island at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. This place is a melting pot of cultures, flavors, and histories, all set against the backdrop of some seriously stunning beaches.

Cyprus is like a history buff’s dream. Ancient ruins like the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos are like stories etched in stone. And the Byzantine churches? They’re like stepping into a living history book.

But let’s talk beaches because Cyprus has some real beauties. Nissi Beach, Fig Tree Bay – these are the kinds of places you see on postcards. Crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and that perfect Mediterranean sun.

Cyprus is a sun-kissed island blending cultures, flavors, and histories against stunning beaches.
Cyprus is a sun-kissed island blending cultures, flavors, and histories against stunning beaches.

The towns and cities in Cyprus are a mix of the old and the new. Limassol’s bustling marina area is a great spot for a night out, while the old town of Nicosia is a maze of history and culture.

Cypriot food is a delicious blend of Greek and Turkish influences. Meze, halloumi, and fresh seafood are just the start. Eating here is a celebration of every meal!

Make time to head to the Troodos Mountains for a change of scenery. The mountain villages are charming, and the views are incredible. As such, it’s no wonder this is among the coolest European island countries.

The top islands to visit in Europe for all types of travelers
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